The road less travelled can be a traveller’s delight!

Those at the top level of their businesses certainly bear their share of stress and of course highs and lows. Out of sheer frustration at the number of airline cancellations we have been experiencing lately I confess I recently had one of my rare low moments.

Always with a determination to bounce back quickly though, out of sheer gratitude for what I have and the terrible things others have had to experience that I have not, I took to a little ‘photo-therapy’ and went through the 750 odd photos I had taken over my recent year-end holiday.

I think we in the travel industry have certainly had time for plenty of introspection and many have asked me, particularly now, why I remain in the travel industry. I think my recent road trip once and for all confirmed my view and provided them with my answer – it is because I simply LOVE being a traveller!

Being immersed in experiences that no one can ever take from you is not only enriching for the soul, but it also makes for great topics of discussion at the dinner table – and wonderful ‘virtual’ scrapbooks of photos capturing unforgettable memories.

A double-edged sword

Even pandemics have some positive spin-offs and I found our vacation to be in many ways a bittersweet experience. We were sweetly blessed with being able to explore our own national treasures over our peak season, without having to deal with the crowding often experienced by having foreign travellers here.

It was a double-edged sword though, because our peaceful access was offset by the devastating impact of local businesses not being able to trade at their usual capacity at a time when they so badly need the additional revenue.

The road less travelled

The book of this name was about finding enlightenment and certainly, in a literal sense, the roads less travelled have some of the most interesting views. Because we had decided not to take the main highways – on a whim, we drove through the Tradouw pass (R324) between Swellendam and Barrydale.

I had never heard of it until we were in it…. but it was a prime geography lesson as what unfolded before us was a beautifully maintained road where spectacular mountain passes trapped the clouds to create a lush valley.

The sandstone mountains are so porous that they create massive caves ripe exploration. Within the pass, we had experienced cooler cloudy weather and within 2 minutes after exiting we encountered the blazing sun of the Klein Karoo as we journeyed on to dusty Barrydale.

The treasure of the imagination

We stopped at the world renowned Big Hole in Kimberley. Here it was well over 35 degrees in the sun, but this did not deter us from our fascination of this place where no photo does justice to the sheer scale of this old diamond mine and it has to be seen with the naked eye.

Here the treasure of the imagination gripped me as I pondered the reality of how many lives must have been lost given the primitive mining practice of rope & crude wooden steps heading down into the bowels of the earth. I marvelled at the resilience and faith that the intrepid miners had held onto for so many years – hoping to strike it lucky.

The ‘great escape’ of the penguins

Many of you are sure to have watched the YouTube clips that went viral of the penguins having their run of Simonstown during phase five of the lockdown – but we, now having arrived in the Mother City, had the joy of watching three intrepid penguins make their “get away” from the protection of the penguin sanctuary at Boulders Beach, to stage their ‘great escape’ into the undergrowth across the road and into some lucky person’s garden for some alternative scenery!

Local is lekker!

Local restaurateurs, hotel staff and guides we met all along the way we so helpful and hospitable, reminding us that South African’s really are such warm people. Everyone was ready with a quip or interesting fact – or advice on alternate things to things do since our beaches were closed.

All this made for a colourful experience for us as travellers and our guide as we meandered through the Cango Caves remarked that we were experiencing a ‘private’ tour – as there were only two families on our walkthrough, the Jozi family and the iKapa family those were our names for the tour – truly South Africa! Sad times – but as I said – great times to just reflect and enjoy the peace.

Deciding to do our photo stops along Chapman’s Peak drive travelling in ‘reverse’ from Noordhoek to Hout Bay, we encountered a blustery day when the Cape winds (or ‘Cape Doctor’ as they are more commonly known) were exhibiting their ferocity. It gave us newfound respect and admiration for the many cyclists that braved this route all the time and we decided that we would definitely be choosing horsepower over pedal power any day!

The end of the road

So our road had come to an end – memories were made and many reflections had been pondered. In the book ‘the road less travelled’ it tells us that certain pathways in life are less travelled because they are more challenging, but take it from me – the road less travelled can be a traveller’s delight! 

LIDIA FOLLI

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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